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Legislative changes to support Norfolk Island businesses affected by COVID-19 restrictions

The Australian Government is implementing a number of changes to legislation to support businesses and individuals, as part of the ongoing response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its economic impacts.

Ensuring consistency with relief offered through Commonwealth legislative frameworks, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino has made rules for debts and meeting arrangements under the Norfolk Island Continued Laws Ordinance.

The temporary changes are to ease the impact of COVID-19 on Norfolk Island businesses by providing more flexibility, including more time, for the management of debt.

The Rules, which commenced on 21 July 2020, can be found on the Federal Register of Legislation at: www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00926. An explanatory statement is also available at that link.

The Rules amend the Norfolk Island Bankruptcy Act and the Norfolk Island Companies Act to temporarily:

  • provide debtors more time to respond to a bankruptcy notice, extending the period from 21 days to six months
  • increase the statutory minimum for a creditor to issue a statutory demand to a debtor from $2,000 to $20,000
  • provide debtor companies more time to respond to a statutory demand, extending the period from 21 days to six months
  • increase the statutory minimum for a creditor to issue a demand to a debtor company from $1,000 to $20,000
  • provide relief from personal liability for insolvent trading where it applies
  • provide flexibility for meetings and document signatures.

Consistent with the present timing of the relevant Commonwealth laws, the temporary measures with respect to debts and insolvent trading are in place until 25 September 2020, and the measures about meetings and document signatures are in place until 5 November 2020.

Legislation to implement the Commonwealth corporations and bankruptcy law in Norfolk Island is progressing and is expected to be introduced before the end of the year, subject to any further delays associated with COVID-19.

Eric Hutchinson
Administrator of Norfolk Island
23 July 2020